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Photorefractive Keratectomy


Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is laser surgery to correct refractive errors of the eye. Refractive errors are common eye disorders that cause blurred vision. These errors happen when there is a problem in the refraction (bending) of light in the eye. They are often caused by an abnormal shape and texture of the cornea. The cornea is the clear outer layer of your eye. PRK uses a laser to reshape your cornea or make it smoother. This helps light to focus better in the eye, which leads to clearer vision.

Lateral cut-away of the Right Eye


Before your procedure:

  • Your healthcare provider may give you medicine to help you stay calm and relaxed during the procedure.
  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

During your procedure:

  • Your healthcare provider will place eyedrops into your eyes. These include antibiotic eyedrops to help prevent infection and numbing drops to prevent pain. Your eyelashes and the area around your eyes will be cleaned. A speculum (eyelid holder) will gently hold your eyelids open to keep you from blinking. The laser will be programmed to correct your refraction error.
  • Your healthcare provider will remove the epithelium of your cornea with the laser. The epithelium is a thin layer of tissue that covers and protects the cornea. He will tell you to focus on a target light while he reshapes your cornea. It is important to keep your gaze focused on the light so the laser can work correctly. A soft bandage contact lens may be placed into each of your eyes to help the corneas heal.

After your procedure:

You will be taken to a room where you can rest. Healthcare providers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. When healthcare providers see that you are okay, you will be able to go home. A bandage and protective clear plastic eye shield may be used to cover your eye. This will help remind you to not rub or touch your eye.

  • Antibiotics: These eyedrops help prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Steroid medicine: These eyedrops help decrease eye inflammation. Use as directed.
  • Pain medicine: You may be given medicine to take away or decrease pain. This medicine may be eyedrops or a pill. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a healthcare provider when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.


You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Nerves or blood vessels may be damaged during the procedure. You may need another eye surgery. It may take longer than expected for your cornea to heal. You may have increased pain. Your vision may be worse than before the procedure. You may develop glaucoma (increased pressure), cataracts (clouding of the lens), or long-term inflammation. You may lose your vision. You may have dry eyes. Scars may form on your corneas. You may have other eye problems, such as permanent glare, haze, or halos around lights at night.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.